Tom Petty, P!NK, Muse, 50 Cent, Melissa Etheridge and More Set for an Epic 2017 Bluesfest!

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RBC Bluesfest will get its first dance with Mary Jane when the long rumored Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers finally make their festival debut this summer as part of what Dan Aykroyd is calling “a world-class lineup”.

When you’ve got Elwood Blues’ endorsement you know it’s going to be something special but this should come as no surprise to those eagerly awaiting the lineup to drop. Festival executive and artistic director Mark Monahan has been saying for months that he planned to pull out all the stops this year.

“To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, we’ve put together one of our best lineups ever,” Monahan said, touching upon the heightened expectations local festivals have this year to keep up with the immense amount of events hitting the city all year long for the country’s sesquicentennial.

Petty and his band celebrate their own milestone this year hitting the road for their 40th anniversary. It was a tour Monahan was not about to have pass by the capital, personally flying to Los Angeles to meet with Petty’s agent to express how serious he was to finally have the legendary Florida rocker headline Bluesfest. After all, they haven't touched down in Ottawa in 36 years, last playing here on the 1981 Hard Promises tour. 

Monahan, who always strives to put together an eclectic mix of talent in which there’s something for everyone, says that this year's lineup revivals any other major festival across North America. In fact, he’ll tell you Ottawa is going to be the one to beat. Looking at some of the names filling the stages come July you have to agree.

Break out your faded Levi’s and cowboy hats because Billboard’s Country Artist of the Decade Toby Keith headlines the first night of the festival. The always popular country music nights continue to pack LeBreton Flats, something that hasn’t been ignored again this year with Justin Moore and Jake Owen also performing.

Always reviling the big country crowds are the hip-hop fans and this year the festival accommodates with another first-timer. 50 Cent headlines July 8. Other heavy hitters in rap this year include Migos and Fetty Wap.  

A trio of fantastic female vocalist highlight the days before the now customary festival break with multiple Grammy award and Oscar winning Heartland rocker Melissa Etheridge taking the stage Friday night, acclaimed singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile on Saturday and pop rock sensation P!nK closing out the weekend.

Monahan upped the budget this year to net some of these bigger names and the extra $5 million did not go to waste. MUSE, Flume, LCD Soundsystem and LIVE will also headline. Groups like Phantogram, Death From Above 1979 and Australia’s Xavier Rudd will fill out the midcard slots with some fantastic shows so be ready to stage hop.

If you’re looking for the blues in Bluesfest this year you’ll get Gary Clark Jr., Detroit's Queen of the Blues Thornetta Davis and legendary blues rockers The Fabulous Thunderbirds. Tom Petty isn’t the only one represent classic rock from Florida at the Flats this summer. Molly Hatchet performs on July 8.  

Bluesfest has always maintained strong Canadian representation and this year is no different. July Talk, Tegan and Sara and Sam Roberts Band are just a few of the Canuck contingent you can check out.

If you need proof of Ottawa’s ever expanding music community look no further than the record number of 450 local submissions to the fest this year. The 50 acts selected include the soulful Slack Bridges, Juno nominated First Nations DJs A Tribe Called Red, the always sensational Lynne Hanson and the Good Intentions and newcomer Malak.

While Monahan is certainly cognisant of the usual gripes and groans after each lineup announcement, he’s also aware of the impossibility to please everyone even with such a massive amount of music to choose from and discover. The detractors might want to note that, despite the usual complaints, the festival had one of its most successful years in 2016 with The Red Hot Chili Peppers being one of the fest’s biggest turnouts ever. This year, organizers are also looking towards the larger than usual influx of tourists to the city.

“We expect thousands of visitors to join in and celebrate some great music in the nation’s capital, this summer,” said Monahan. “New for 2017, in expectation of an increase in the number of out-of-town visitors, we are offering weekend-one (July 6-9) or weekend-two (July 13-16) passports.”

Tickets go on sale Thursday at 10 a.m. See below for even more Bluesfest highlights.

Thursday, July 6

  • Toby Keith
  • Sam Roberts Band
  • Death From Above 1979
  • Pokey LaFarge

Friday, July 7

  • Melissa Etheridge
  • Justin Moore
  • Matt Andersen
  • DJ Mustard

Saturday, July 8

  • 50 Cent
  • Brandi Carlile
  • Tegan and Sara
  • Molly Hatchet

Sunday, July 9

  • P!nk
  • High Valley
  • Slam Allen
  • Twin Flames

Tuesday, July 11

  • July Talk
  • Jake Owen
  • RL Grime
  • Fetty Wap

Wednesday, July 12

  • The Shins
  • LCD Soundsystem
  • Phantogram
  • Gary Clark Jr.

Thursday, July 13

  • Flume
  • The Fabulous Thunderbirds
  • Migos
  • Lil Yachty

Friday, July 14

  • Live
  • Thornetta Davis
  • The Campbell Brothers

Saturday, July 15

  • Muse
  • Xavier Rudd
  • Wide Mouth Mason
  • Night Lovell

Sunday, July 16

  • Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  • Midnight Shine
  • Peter Wolf